Obama super PAC shift not a flip-flop, say his deputies

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s campaign managers today denied GOP taunts that he has flip-flopped by suddenly endorsing so-called ‘super APCs” that he has long slammed.

Obama’s policy reversal “has nothing to do with the type of flip-flop that we’re seeing from [Gov.] Mitt Romney,” said one of his campaign’s top officials.

“Mitt Romney lack[s] core principles…. [but] the president is deciding that he’s not fighting with one hand tied behind his back,” said the campaign official. Besides, the aide added, Obama still wants Congress to curb campaign donations.

Obama’s sudden reversal on campaign financing doesn’t mean the president is changing his views on other issues, the official said. “Our message remains the same — we believe that Wall Street needs to play by the same rules as Main Street.”

GOP officials have taunted Obama’s campaign for the flip-flop. “Like clockwork, Barack Obama goes back on another one of his promises to ‘change Washington’ because his number one priority is saving his own job,” read a Feb. 7 statement from the Republican National Committee.

“It’s no secret this president will do anything and saying anything to get re-elected,” quipped the RNC, mirroring the language that Obama’s campaign has long used against Romney.

The campaign’s decision to involve a super PAC run by Obama’s former aides will help the group — Priorities USA — raise large donations from wealthy Democrats in Hollywood and Wall Street, from lawyers, or owners of government-backed green-tech firms.

Obama and other Democrats have long criticized the use of super PACs to accept donations of any size from wealthy American citizens in order to bypass the legal limit imposed on individual donations made directly to either political parities or a campaign.

The super PACs also help business executives anonymously fund political campaigns without fear of retaliation from Democratic-leaning regulators, advocacy groups, legislators or state attorneys general. The fear of such retaliation has stifled contributions to the GOP, even as Democrats have also been supported by lavishly funded union-run political campaigns.

Obama reversed his anti-super PAC policy after seeing the 2012 GOP candidates being aided by right-of-center super PACs. For example, the combination of Romney’s own fund raising, plus that of several super PACs, have roughly equaled Obama’s fund-raising.

“We had no idea that a half-billion dollars [of donation commitments] would come on line from Republican [super PAC] donors to defeat the president” in November, the campaign official complained.

Obama’s fund-raising has stalled over the last few months, ending predictions that it would raise a billion dollars by November.

Obama’s reversal contrasts with the decision taken by his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain.

McCain complied with fund-raising curbs that he had championed even though Obama opted-out of federal campaign-financing financing. That opt-out decision allowed Obama to win a fund-raising total of almost $750 million in 2008, or three times as much as McCain’s regulated total of roughly $200 million.

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